Vision screenings done in the blink of an eye

Nov 2, 2018

ROCHESTER — Vision screenings at Rochester Memorial School usually take the school Nurse, Ellen Murphy four to five days to complete. But this year with the help of three Rochester Lions and their vision scanner, she was able to complete all 490 scans on Oct. 17.

With the Lion’s Spot Vision Scanner, Murphy,  Deb Grassi, Lorraine Thompson and Kathy Salem identified 19 students that did not previously have vision problems, but now have nearsightedness, farsightedness, blurred vision, eye misalignment, or unequally sized pupils, among other vision problems.

“I don’t have to do vision screenings on the sixth graders, per the Department of Health, but I wanted to do them on the whole school because it was such a great opportunity,” Murphy explained.

The Spot Vision Screener resembles a camera, and works in much the same way. Screeners take a photo of a child’s eyes from about three feet away, and the scanner then analyzes that photo and converts it to a digital readout, complete with statistics and graphs.

The device has gently flashing lights that attract and keep children’s attention during the screening. After the screening, the Lions were able to give Murphy printouts of the digital results for the children  who failed the screenings.

Though Murphy’s scanner would have picked up on the vision problems as well, the Spot Vision Scanner gave her additional information about gaze development and asymmetry, and allowed her to scan students much faster.   

Still, she plans to double-screen children that failed with her machine. If her scanner also indicates that they may have vision problems, she will call parents.

“The scans can indicate that children might need glasses, so I like to make the phone call and make it personal instead of just sending a letter,” Murphy said.

Her work keeps her busy, so she appreciates having the extra time. She also values being able to support students and their families.

“It’s nice to have an additional tool to offer to the community,” Murphy said. “It’s another way for me to support the community.